The Lakers were apparently very close to acquiring their next big franchise center.
This is a startling revelation, given the Lakers’ history of blockbuster acquisitions. The baby Lakers showed flashes of brilliance and even garnered some way-too-premature playoff talk during the first month of the season, but it must have been incredibly difficult to pass up the Kings’ offer.
Even if Ingram, D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle develop at a normal rate, the Lakers are still at least three or four years away from being truly competitive. Even if the Lakers gave up two of their young stars in the Cousins trade, they would have been considered a playoff threat, starting next season.
The trade would have also restored prominence to a franchise that’s used to being great and is now on its way to finishing its fourth straight season with less than 30 wins. This seems like the kind of move they’ve been waiting to make, but they didn’t make it.
Ingram appears to have the tools to be a great NBA player, but he’s yet to put it together so far in his rookie year. He’s had some breakout games, but is averaging 8.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in a healthy 27.7 minutes per game. People compare him to Kevin Durant, but Durant averaged 20 points in his rookie year at the exact same age.
Maybe the Lakers have learned their lesson after the Dwight Howard-Steve Nash experiment blew up in their faces back in 2012. Maybe they see something in Ingram that will make us look back at this and say, “wow, that was smart.” Maybe they don’t want Cousins’ history of volatility and unpredictability anywhere near their franchise.
It’s good that the Lakers are sticking to their guns if they truly believe Ingram will be a superstar, but if he ends up a bust -- or even mediocre -- this could become one of the great “what ifs” in NBA history.